March 26, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team concluded its 2011-12 season on Sunday, handing out the team honors at its postseason banquet, held in the new West Club at Mackey Arena. For the second time in the last three seasons, sophomore Cashé Quiroga was named the Boilermakers' Most Outstanding Wrestler, leading the list of Purdue award winners.
Despite missing a large portion of the schedule due to injury, Quiroga was 22-8 in his first collegiate season at 133 pounds. He led the Boilermakers with 97 takedowns, matching the 19th-best single-season total in Purdue history and collecting that team honor for the second time in his career, and his fifth-place finish at the 2012 Big Ten Championships was a team best. He tied for the team lead with six major decisions, ranked fifth with four falls and led the squad with a pair of technical falls.
Senior A.J. Kissel was awarded the inaugural Ultimate Hammer Award, given to the most dominant wrestler on the Boilermaker roster. Head coach Scott Hinkel started a weekly honor this season, giving a hammer to the wrestler who put forth the most dominant showing of the week, and handed three to Kissel throughout the season. Kissel put the exclamation point on the season at the NCAA Championships, scoring bonus points in both of his wins, including his first career technical fall. Kissel finishes tied for the Purdue falls record, matching Hinkel with 47 for his career, and also claimed top-20 career marks in reversals and back points.
Fellow senior Matt Fields was honored as the Boilermakers' Team Player in addition to having the most falls for Purdue in 2011-12. Throughout his career, Fields has stepped in at a moment's notice for the Old Gold and Black, filling in wherever needed and doing whatever it took to help the team. He wrestled anywhere from 125 to 141 pounds, collecting some of the top fall, reversal and back point marks in school history. His 10 falls this season are tied for 13th on the Boilermakers' single-season record list, while his career total of 22 is tied for 11th all-time. He's tied for fifth with 36 career reversals and is one of just eight wrestlers in school history to surpass 200 career back points.
The Boilermakers' Most Improved Wrestler was junior Tommy Churchard, who set career bests in nearly every statistical category en route to his first-ever place-winning performance at the Big Ten Championships and the Midlands Championships, in addition to his first career NCAA Championship qualification. Heading into the year with a career record of 16-11 at 141 and 149 pounds, Churchard was 20-20 at 157 pounds, wrestling one of the nation's toughest schedules at the weight. His 61 takedowns were second-most on the team, while his 15 reversals were tied for a team best and match the 14th-best single-season total in Purdue history. Earning an at-large bid, he won a pair of matches at the NCAA Championships, including a major decision, as he advanced to the consolation third round before falling.
First-year standout Braden Atwood was named both the Outstanding Freshman and the Boilermakers' 2011-12 Iron Man after a 23-15 rookie season at 184 pounds. Atwood totaled a team-best 48 team points, competing in every event on the Boilermakers' schedule this season, including the NCAA Championships. He had eight falls, good for third on the team, and four major decisions, including a string of six consecutive bonus-point wins in December which led to a fourth-place finish at the Midlands Championships.
The Boilermakers' Academic Excellence award went to redshirt freshman Andy Wiseman, who is one of five Academic All-Big Ten honorees for the Old Gold and Black, while several true freshman were honored for their accomplishments during their redshirt seasons. Rookie Chad Welch paced the group, amassing a 38-10 record in nine tournaments at 165 pounds, including eight place-winning performances, three technical falls and 12 major decisions.